China: Hui Muslims protest plan to demolish Najiaying mosque
Clashes have erupted between protesters and police in southwest China over plans to raze parts of a mosque. The authorities are now asking the demonstrators to turn themselves in
China deployed hundreds of police and made arrests in a mostly Muslim southwestern town of Nagu in Yunnan province after clashes erupted last week over the planned partial demolition of Najiaying mosque.
A court in 2020 reportedly ordered the mosque's dome and four minarets to be demolished after finding they were built without official permission. The area is home to a sizable enclave of Hui, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group who have come under pressure in the face of a broad crackdown.
On Saturday, dozens of officers wielding truncheons and riot shields repelled a crowd outside the mosque that was hurling objects at them, according to videos circulating on social media.
One protester punched a police officer's helmet but little other violence was shown. Videos showing the protests were removed from Chinese social media.
What was the government's reaction?
A notice issued Sunday by the local government said it had opened an investigation into "a case that severely disrupted social management and order."
The notice ordered those involved to "immediately stop all illegal and criminal acts," vowing to "severely punish" anyone who refuses to turn themselves in. Those who voluntarily surrender before June 6 will be treated with leniency, the notice added.
Police have made an unspecified number of arrests over the incident and several hundred officers remained in the town as of Monday, the witnesses said.
China's crackdown on Muslims
China has sought to impose stricter control over religious communities since President Xi Jinping came to power a decade ago. In its crackdown on Muslims, Beijing claims it is working to combat terrorism and extremist thought.
Elsewhere, Xi's government has demolished mosques or removed domes, minarets and other distinctive Muslim features to transform them into nondescript, Chinese-style buildings.
An estimated one million Uyghurs, Hui and other minorities have been detained in the western Xinjiang region since 2017 under a government campaign that the US and rights groups have called a genocide.